Rating: R, Time: 1hr 44min, Director: Jordan Peele, Cast on IMDb
So what did you make of this movie?
It's classic remake of "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" made back in 1967 with Sidney Poiter as the black boyfriend that comes to meet the white parents of his white girlfriend. Back in 1967 it was taboo to date cross racially, so the humor was simply that the girlfriend had a black fiancee. Of course, that initial film dodges the very real dating that occurred and resulted in many lynchings by racist mobs in the Deep South. Fast forward to 2017, when we have had a black US President and all is seemingly cured of the racist past. Peele picks up at this time frame, which also led to his successful sitcom Key and Peele with Keegan Michael Peele. In this film, we have the twist that an unbelievable horror is attached to this simple movie concept, something is happening to the black visitors to this isolated town.
Did you have any reluctance to see it?
Yes, actually I did. I thought oh hears another white man as the devil attitude based off Malcolm X stereotyping done back in the 1960s. So I thought it might be kind of tasteless humor that would just make you skirm. Once I found out the director was Jordan Peele, I knew I had to see it as I was a fan of the show and knew he would actually make a funny film that was insightful.
How did you think of the main characters Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya and Rose, played by Allison Williams?
I thought they played it well. I thought it was funny Peele used a very dark guy, which enhances the subtle racist undertones of the audience and film. Chris plays it well being well behaved despite some really squirrelly situations like the more obvious racist, kind of white trash brother Jeremy, played Caleb Landry Jones. These side characters really start to show the true intentions of the family as the film progresses. Chris is well played in that he shows intellectual smarts, while playing as well into the stereotype features the family is seeking.
Were there other key characters that made the film?
The other white side characters are good as well like the dad and mother, who play their part as post-racially accepting parents that kind of throws off Chris in the beginning as his girlfriend does as well. They have to attend a type of family reunion that turns into a really dark twist in the film as you find out why the black servants seem really off.
The black servants Walter and Georgina played by Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel really start to reinforce the fact that something is off in the family since these servants seem like something from 1950s in their talk and even dress. Georgina and Walter have non-black names, their dress is off, their language is off, their gait is off and they don't even know common things like the fist pump either.
The black husband of one of the white guests played by Lakeith Stanfield likely is the best of the three "servant" type roles in the film. He really captures a delicateness and feebleness unbecoming of a black guy at least the ones I know. He has this dorky straw hat and boring suit and walks funny as well. His whole aura really captures that there is truly something off in this community and even gathering.
Would you change anything in the film?
I would say it is fairly well acted with the proper dose of humor, horror, romance and deviantness. I think Peele pulled off a great work here. The best part of the film is that you feel you can root for a black guy as he has to battle his way out of the madness he encounters in the family gathering. It was shocking how this feels as you watch it and realize how deep seated the Hollywood stereotypes have been ground into our sensories over the decades. I was also rooting for the fact a guy escapes in a horror film. Normally, its the stupid one girl survives crap.
The depth of the characters is well played throughout the film, which makes it very compelling and watchable. You don't feel any character was under-developed at all. The humor is captured well by Chris's friend back home Lilrel Howery as he tries to convince people of the unnatural disappearance of his friend Chris.
Did you ever face race issues?
Yes. Actually a few times. I lived for awhile in a half black half white Chicago suburb for about 2 years. In that time I briefly dated in secret a black girl. We both were stressed about what our families would think and all that drama back in the 90s. Chicago is fairly segregated and people were sometimes openly using racist terms so it was intense. That relationship didn't last long as it was just too much social pressure back then. It wasn't Obama's Chicago yet.
Another more deeply shocking event was my black friend Clayton. We hung out all summer long borrowing his Mom's Monte Carlo driving around prowling basically looking for girls or just chilling. Then the friendship kind of broke off after he started hanging with his other black friends. They all had moved out of black neighborhoods to escape the inner city crime, so I was like whatever suits him. He and his friends were hanging out at McDonald's one day and got thrown out for hanging out too long. There was nothing in this hood to do, so not surprising. Some big hulking white kid 14 was in charge of throwing them out and he did it physically as they refused to leave on their own. My friend and his new crew weren't down with putting up with this racial crap, so went to their car and got baseball bats. They reentered, jumped over the counter and beat the guy up in the back of McDonalds. They put this guy in a coma over the feel of being racially profiled or some shit. Anyway at that point, I stopped hanging out with Clayton. Later on maybe 3-4 months later, he was at this party where we all regularly went with all kinds of black market activities. So he was with his step dad and his older friend and spotted the party mother's daughter sleeping alone on the couch. One thing led to another and they decided to rape and later kill her.
It was highly disturbing as it broke my trust in humanity at that point. I had known all the people: perpetrator, perp;s mom, victim, victim's mom, it was a fucking mess. In the end my friend went to prison 5 years for ending some poor girl's life. It was crazy. Needless to say, I broke off all relations with him after the event. The poor mother returned to the inner city completely heart broken.
Years later it turned out the Chicago Police Department had staged several crime scenes to nab young black youth to clean up unsolved crime. I think in this case it was solved correctly, but just another disturbing wrinkle in the whole story.